Pharmakos. 2011. Oil on canvas, 30in. x 36in.
This is a revised (2012) version of the video document of my 2006 PhD sculpture installation. The music is by kind permission of Ryuichi Sakamoto.
The title of this painting, Pharmakos, refers to the custom in ancient Athens of sacrificing someone from the city in times of trouble. The sacrifice took place outside of the city. Two persons were kept at public expense for this purpose. It also relates to the words pharmakon - magic - of which painting was considered a kind; and pharmakeus - a magician, healer, or sorcerer (hence the English word pharmacist). It was influenced by Jacques Derrida’s essay “Plato’s Pharmacy”, and the work of Rene Girard on the theme of the ‘scapegoat’ in religion and mythology. However, it is not necessary to know all of this to enjoy the painting. The meaning is contained within its visual discourse: the life-energy of the figure, the reference to sacrifice in the cross motif, and above all the magic - or ‘pharmacy’ - of painting itself with its created world of feeling and signification. Formally, it is a play on two-dimensional space, an essay in figure composition and painting, a return to what I was doing 11 years ago. In that sense it is not new - it is a re-description, or re-inscription. But perhaps in painting, as in life, what seems to be a return or repeat always contains something new, not present but anterior even to origin - a “trace”. My indebtedness to Derrida for these thoughts ...
City VI. 2012. Wood / fibreboard / acrylics. 15in. x 15in. at base.
This is the most recent addition to the City series of sculptures. The theme of the city holds a special interest for me: the ideal city of Plato’s Republic - the “city within us”; the archetypal society; the notions of inside and outside, of inclusion and exclusion; the walled city as a metaphor of the ‘same’ and the ‘other’, and the shining possibility of a city without walls, where the stranger is interchangeable both as responsible citizen and welcome guest.
Seascape. 2013. Oil on cardboard. 8.5in. x 5.5in.
One of a series of very small paintings done from the studio window, from which the sea can just be seen in the distance. The effects of light and weather conditions can change rapidly, so fast painting is required. The result can never be more than a cumulative impression, worked into a stable composition. It shows a break in rain at sea, and so I used it to illustrate my article ‘Halcyon Days II’
Charites. 2014. Oil on canvas, 40in. x 40in.
Charites (Χάριτες) is the ancient Greek name for the later Roman ‘Gratiae’ or Graces. In ancient Greek culture and mythology they were closely associated with the arts. They are traditionally three in number: beauty, joy, and plenty. They are also associated with spring, and with archaic mysteries of the cycle of life, death, and regeneration. The painting, though, is more concerned with the challenges of figure composition than with the narrative of the charites - by coincidence presenting a double, in that the three traditionally accompany artistic endeavour. In the painting, they surround a depiction of one of my sculptures of the City series.